Unions and bosses reach agreement over pay rises

After a marathon meeting lasting some 20 hours the trades unions and employers federations have reached agreement on the maximum level of pay increases above inflation for the next two years. The unions will now put the proposals before their members. However, only the liberal union ACLVB will actively defend it. The leadership of the other two unions ABVV/BBTK (socialist) and ACV (Christian) will make no recommendation to its members either way.

The draft agreement stipulates that wages may rise no more 1.1% above the rate of inflation. Taking into account inflation predictions for this year and next wages will be able to rise by a total of 4.54% over the next two years.

Under the conditions of the draft agreement, minimum wages will also rise by 1.1% above the rate of inflation. This is far less than the 10% proposed by the socialist trade union ABVV

However, the unions and the employers have agreed to form a working party to look into how minimum wages can be “substantially” increased.

Employees will also get a greater portion of their public transport season tickets refunded by their employers. Currently the minimum employers contribution is 64% of the price of a season ticket. This will rise to 70% is the draft agreement is passed.

The amount of voluntary overtime that can be done will also rise from 100 to 120 hours. Here the employers had hoped for more.

Agreement was also reach at the minimum age at which an older worker can take SWT. SWT is a system where an older worker gets unemployment benefit plus a supplement payable by his/her former employee. According to the terms of the draft agreement it will be possible for those that started work young and/or have a “demanding profession” to still take SWT from the age of 59 for another 2 years.

Benefits too will rise under the proposals. The lowest benefits will rise by 2.4% and the highest by 1.1% above the rate of inflation.

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